We’ve all been there - that long, seemingly impenetrable to-do list that just won’t reduce, no matter what you do.
You’ve spent days trying to tackle it, but rather than see the number of items diminish, you seem to simply be adding yet more jobs to an already unmanageable list.
Actually - technology! If you’re battling like this every day at work, there’s a strong chance you’ve developed an unhealthy reliance on tech to get stuff done (and let’s be honest, it isn’t working, is it?). Here’s what you need to do:
Avoid your digital morning routine
Let’s say every morning you wake up and, before even taking that first sip of coffee, you plough through your email inbox and social media feeds.
Stop. Instead, work yourself into the day slowly but confidently. Get some exercise as soon as you can, get ready for work and then review the tasks you’ve promised you’ll complete today. Is the list unreasonable? If so - change it.
Give bullet journaling a go
The rebirth of vinyl records is just one of many indications that analogue life is making something of a comeback, and at work, this can be truly inspiring.
Take bullet journaling, which swaps digital ways of taking notes and managing to-do lists for a simple pen/notebook combo.
It’s beautifully simple and means you’re not constrained by battery life, software updates or the artificial walls put up by technology.
Best of all, it doesn’t cost much to get set up, and the basic rules of bullet journalling are something we can all get to grips with.
Treat email like snail mail
How many times do you check your email each day? Do you check it halfway through undertaking other tasks?
If the answers to the above questions are “lots” and “yes”, respectively, you’re wasting a huge amount of time.
Email isn’t a method by which people can get hold of you quickly, so don’t let them do so. Instead, treat it like snail mail. Remember - the postman only drops those letters through your door once per day. Who’s to say you can’t do the same with email?
Never say ‘I’m always available’
We’ve all done this - often in a bid to prove to people that we care about them and want to be contactable should our expertise be required.
However, if you give people the impression you can always be disturbed, you will be - regularly. That phone will ring constantly, and the aforementioned barrage of emails will only intensify.
Take as much time out for yourself as you can, and if you need a clear day to get that big project done, politely inform people (either via an answerphone message or out-of-office reply) that you’re unavailable.
Finally: Don’t use the web to find answers
Sometimes, it’s the most obvious things we can do to reduce our reliance on technology that get overlooked.
Think about how often you search Google for answers each day. Chances are, it’ll be an incredibly regular routine. Unfortunately, given the size of the web and the many cul-de-sacs we often head down as the result of a Google search, the web can be a huge productivity killer.
If you’ve got a question about something, why not ask a colleague or friend? Or even pick up a book? Try and find answers where you can’t be distracted by other avenues.
Have I missed something? If you rely on a tech-free productivity technique every day that isn’t listed above, I’d love to hear about it - please comment below!
Mark Ellis is a freelance writer who specialises in copywriting, blogging and content marketing for businesses of all sizes. Mark’s considerable experience at director level and deep interest in personal and business success means he’s ready to comment on anything from freelance writing to workplace dynamics, technology and personal improvement.